Keeping students engaged in class has gotten way more difficult than before. Studies show that children today have shorter attention spans, influenced by technology use habits. But there are lots of science-backed ways to reclaim your students’ attention and focus. Here are some of them.
Clear the visual clutter
Classroom decorations are good. But sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing. According to one study, too many artworks, maps, alphabet sets and all the other common stuff plastered on the wall can interfere with children’s ability to concentrate on lessons and tasks. The researchers do not particularly recommend taking everything down, but instead suggest that you should be more conscious of the fact that some visual displays can get distracting.
Evaluate your classroom and see which stuff you can do away with. Aside from the displays, keep in mind other forms of clutter as well. Keep your supplies tidied away in a tote trolley or storage cabinet. Throw away or let the students take home previous works to avoid stuff piling up in the room. Always involve your young students in decluttering efforts. You can better ensure a clutter-free classroom when everyone is on board.
Get the students moving
Exercise is good for the brain, especially in increasing attention spans. While some studies are uncertain what exactly the link is between physical activity and concentration, a lot of experts believe that the release of endorphins in the bloodstream helps improve the brain’s ability to prioritise tasks. This then helps students get rid of distractions and better focus on what is important.
Other studies show that introducing breaks filled with physical activities can boost memory and translate to overall better academic performance. So, if you want to keep your students engaged in class, let them engage in exercises, whether as part of your classroom lessons or your recess. The best way to know what is right for your students is by doing trial and error, keeping track of their level of concentration for different durations of the activities.
Give students a break
Brain breaks are crucial for students. New pieces of information only become a memory when they pass through the part of the brain called amygdala to reach the prefrontal cortex. The common problem is the amygdala often goes into overdrive when there is too much information to process.
Some teachers adopt the habit of letting students digest information for two minutes for every 10 minutes of lesson discussion. This is the 10:2 method of instruction. In applying this method, you can ask questions based on what you have discussed or do an action song that would let them remember the lesson. Whatever you do, give your pupils a break.
Holding students’ attention is often the biggest struggle of many teachers, given that technology has indeed changed children’s ability to focus. But you must keep up with the times. The good thing is science is here to back you up. Take note of these scientific strategies to get your students’ attention back.